“Coming from my extensive background in the staffing industry, I can confidently say that people are a company’s greatest asset. You can have all the resources in the world, but unless your people are motivated and dedicated towards accomplishing your company’s vision, you will achieve a fraction of your potential. Companies and people evolve over time. Any company that wishes to boost employee happiness and employee engagement needs to constantly reevaluate and align employee goals with company goals. This is much easier said than done.”
This interview was originally written by Chayna Weiner and published in Authority Magazine on Medium. The insight provided by Jim Essey, President/CEO of The TemPositions Group of Companies, has been edited for clarity.
What brought you to this specific career path?
I am in a family business, so I grew up knowing I would work in staffing. After I graduated from business school, my father insisted I work for a different company. That was good advice and allowed me, five years later, to come into the family business with my own ideas. Ultimately, those ideas transformed our company from a small office staffing support service to one of the largest regional staffing firms. We now serve multiple areas besides office support. We’ve added health care, accounting/finance, education, hospitality, legal, human resources, and light industrial services into the mix.
Is there a specific moment that shaped TemPositions into what it is today?
One night, I was getting out of a cab with a friend who owns a competing staffing firm. As we’re saying goodbye, he mentioned an idea for clients to place orders online and for talent to receive and accept assignments online. It was like a light went off in my head! I realized that was the way for us to truly revolutionize the way we conduct our business. An online platform would allow us to interact with and service our clients and employees quicker and easier.
That very week we hired several developers to begin work on what would become our Client Web Access and Employee Web Access systems. Today we have gone a step further to “Uberize” our business. We’ve added state-of-the-art mobile apps for our employees and our clients and have developed one of the most sophisticated online ordering mobile apps in existence, all from that 2-minute parting conversation.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We have developed a proprietary applicant tracking system that allows our clients to hire employees on a 24/7/365 basis. We’ve also created an employee platform. It allows employees full transparency and 24/7/365 access to their schedules, billable hours, open job positions, and more.
After using versions of this system in-house for many years, we have decided to commercialize it and make it available to other staffing firms. We’re still working on it, but this will allow staffing firms to connect employers with candidates much faster and more efficiently than has ever been done before.
According a this study cited in Forbes, more than half of the US workforce is unhappy. Why do you think that number is so high?
Looking at the other statistics in the article, it’s easy to understand some major weaknesses in the industry today.
CareerBuilder says 58% of managers don’t receive training. General studies say 79% of people quit their job due to “lack of appreciation.” And at the same time, recognition is revealed to be the number one thing a manager can give their employees.
Managing a team is much more than being the most productive member. A large part of being a successful manager is making sure that your team is thriving and developing on a professional level. Every team has goals, benchmarks, KPIs, and deadlines. It’s not just the manager’s duty to make sure that the company fulfills its goals! Managers also much make sure that their team is recognized for their accomplishments.
If 100% of managers were trained on how to motivate their team to do good work and how to recognize them both publicly and privately for their efforts, I believe appreciation and happiness indexes would improve.
Based on your experience or research, how do you think an unhappy workforce will impact company productivity, company profitability, and employee health and wellbeing?
We’ve already established that employee happiness is related to management effectiveness. When employees do not feel that their hard work is appreciated, they are disincentivized to perform.
They still feel the urgency and pressure of completing an assignment but miss out on the reward and satisfaction. This inevitably leads to lower productivity, profitability, employee health, and wellbeing.
Will you share 5 things that managers and executives can do to improve their company work culture?
Make sure everyone understands the company’s vision so they can all push towards a common goal. Each week, we have an all-company huddle where we share successes for the current week and fine tune goals for the next one.
Provide lots of opportunities for employees to work together, as it creates stronger relationships and improves results. We have established a number of committees where employees from across divisions get together to work on a common goal. Our Spirit Committee plans events to keep morale high. Our Charity Works Committee thinks of opportunities to involve our staff in giving back to the community. Our Training Committee identifies training needs across the company and then develops a plan to address them.
People spend more time at work than any place else, so be sure it’s a place they want to come to. Our headquarters office is a space with amazing views of Manhattan and provided new furniture in an open set up. This allows teams to work together for greater collaboration. Our new space includes a large open pantry where people can sit together and have lunch, rather than going out. We boast a 1,500 sq foot gaming area which includes pool and ping pong tables, air hockey, Xbox, basketball, darts, and foosball. It’s a terrific place for people to have some fun during lunch, after work, or during our happy hours.
Individuals are motivated by more than money. Find opportunities to celebrate the work people do both publicly and privately.
Let’s face it — they call it work for a reason. But people need a break. Be sure there are reasons for employees to smile — whether through group meetings, a game room, or email communication.
Coming from my extensive background in the staffing industry, I can confidently say that people are a company’s greatest asset. If your people are not motivated and dedicated towards accomplishing your company’s vision, you will achieve a fraction of your potential. Companies and people evolve over time. Any company that wishes to boost employee happiness and employee engagement needs to constantly reevaluate and align employee goals with company goals. This is much easier said than done.
What is your leadership style like?
I believe in leading by example. Thus, you can’t ask someone to work long hours if you yourself aren’t willing to work those as well. When I hire a new employee or put someone on a new project, I try to work very closely with them. During the initial stages, this helps them plan the approach and modeling behavior. Then, it’s very important to give them the chance to succeed on their own. I like to step back, have regular update meetings with them, and give them space to prove they were the right person for the job.
No one is able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped you get where you are?
I am in a family business. I’m the second generation. A fraction of businesses succeed into the second generation. I owe our overall success and my personal success to the management style of my dad. He made sure I learned business skills outside of his company before joining. Once I joined, he gave me progressive responsibilities so that I could grow in the role and ultimately have what it took to lead the company.
How have you used your success to bring good to the world?
We bring goodness to the world with every candidate our company places. We provide companies with high-quality employees and provide job seekers with employment opportunities. This allow them to support themselves and their families. Because we care about the communities in which we operate, we have set up the TemPositions Community Service fund which donates 5% of our profits to not-for-profit entities (many of whom are our clients) within our service area.
What life lesson do you live by?
My dad once said to me that I am free to take on responsibility in life, but once I take on that responsibility I should be sure that I deliver. In other words: once you take on a job, give your best effort to make it successful. I use that philosophy in the way I grow our business and volunteer to sit on boards. I don’t want to just lend my name. Instead, I want to be sure that if I get involved the project will be greatly improved because of my involvement.
How would you like to leverage your influence for the good of society?
I would like to tip the scales of the American prison system to shift from punishment to rehabilitation. A large part of that shift would involve job training programs. I firmly believe that these programs would help reduce recidivism and provide a substantial benefit to communities affected by high crime rates. Connected with that, we need a return to vocational education in the schools through programs that provide apprenticeships. If we can make sure to give students the tools they need (either through academic programs or vocational programs) we can be sure individuals have a way to earn an income and support their families without having to resort to crime to survive.
Thank you for these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.